In today’s online world, people are quick to find information and share it. Across every social media platform there’s the opportunity to share whatever content you want with your friends, colleagues, and broader community. Social media platforms are built entirely on the assumption that as individuals we will share information with others, they’ll share it again within their group, and so on. That is, after all, the definition of viral content.
However, just because something is on the internet does not make it factual, current or even relevant to others. Here are five things you should consider next time you want to share a piece of information you found on the net.
- WHO is the person sharing the information? Specifically, who within your friends originally found the piece of content and shared it? This is particularly relevant when you know that some people can be kookier than others. Some friends share every single post they see, while others might share just to provoke a reaction (yes, we all have those friends!). Therefore, the WHO is important to provide context and understand some of the other considerations.
- WHAT is the source of the information? Investigate the content yourself and dig deeper than the picture or article. You might have seen pictures of Electromagnetic Radio Frequency testers supposedly showing the “dangerous” level of radiation from 5G mobile phone towers. However, if you investigate further, you’ll discover it doesn’t actually show such information. In fact, we found the EMF meter shown is not even capable of measuring 5G radio frequencies.
- WHERE did the information come from? Did the piece of content come directly from the author or another respected source? Too many times articles written by “Fred from Cecil Hills” are taken as fact when in reality the author has zero qualifications is completely unqualified to write with authority on the subject. For example, when we shared an article on the technical aspects of contact tracing and the COVID-SAFE app, we knew we had the insights to comment authoritatively. However, that would not be the case if we were approaching the deep medical aspects of the COVID-19 virus.
- WHY are you sharing this? We all know someone (or maybe we also do it ourselves sometimes) who likes to share information to “just get the word out” when in fact the person knows nothing about the subject matter and is actually perpetuating the spread of false information. Acting this way only reinforces fear and doubt in the world and does no good at all. So, don’t share it unless you know it to be true, or you’re ready to start the debate!
- WHEN was it published? Ever seen articles about how a person was “recently accused of X, Y or Z” and then everyone treats it as current news when in fact the article was written years ago and since then there has been huge progress in the case? This only dredges up old news or wrong information and can make you look misinformed. Do yourself, and everyone else, a favour by checking the timeframe before sharing your next post.
This post was inspired by the checklist created by the United Nations for the June 30 World Social Media day and its #takecarebeforeyoushare campaign. We’re hoping we can do our bit to encourage you all to be better at stamping out the spread of misinformation.
If this post has helped you better understand your role in breaking the chain, please share it.